By Iris Stone
Welcome to our ranking of the 25 best small colleges for accounting and finance majors on a budget.
Each of these top schools offers at least two programs for students seeking a bachelor's degree in accounting (which also includes but is not limited to programs in finance, actuarial science, banking, forensic accounting, and financial economics). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 45%.
Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also has to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education – which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $27,000 a year.
But which of these is the most affordable small college for an accounting degree? Scroll down to #1 to find out!
25. Arcadia University
Located just half an hour from Philadelphia, Arcadia gives students a small-school experience with big-city benefits. One such benefit of attending this top college for an accounting degree is the number of internship opportunities available, both for accounting majors and business students who concentrate in finance. Both the accounting and business programs also provide an abundance of experiential exercises that will prepare you for the real world, from case studies to presentations to study abroad courses. Business majors can also join a student consulting group that works directly with actual companies that need help.
Net Price: $26,632/yr
24. Trinity University
San Antonio, TX
With the highest graduation rate on this list, paid internships at well-regarded firms, and a 100% job placement rate for accounting graduates, Trinity's got a lot going for it. And if you're extra ambitious, you can take advantage of an extended accounting program that will earn you a B.S. and an M.S. in Accounting in just five years. Alternatively, undergrads with an interest in investments and market management will gravitate toward Trinity's affordable undergraduate finance degree. One of the more unique features of this program is that it supports a special student-run fund, which finance majors use to collectively manage $4 million of the school's endowment.
Net Price: $26,165/yr
23. Augsburg College
If studying abroad is a priority, you might be interested in Augsburg's business semester in Mexico. A standout option on this top accounting degrees ranking, the program sends ambitious undergrads to Augsburg's own CGEE (Center for Global Education and Experience) campus in Cuernavaca. While abroad, business, finance, and accounting majors study the economic relationship between the US and Mexico and the influences of NAFTA on both countries. What's more, all participants receive a $1,000 stipend and reduced rates for room and board! Back in Minneapolis you might consider joining the Augsburg Business Organization, a group that hosts discussions, speakers, and networking events to connect students with professionals in the private sector.
Net Price: $25,760/yr
22. La Sierra University
As a Seventh Day Adventist university, La Sierra encourages all students to put their academic knowledge to work for the greater good. Opportunities for business-related majors include mission trips (which can last from a few weeks to an entire year) as well as regular service-learning and volunteer activities both on and off campus. Clearly, La Sierra is a top small college for accounting and finance majors who want to give back to the community – but that's not the only benefit the school offers. Affordability is also high on its list of priorities; in addition to multiple scholarships and endowments that can help cut costs, the university also provides $1,000 scholarships to 50 full-time business students each year.
Net Price: $23,819/yr
21. Elmhurst College
At Elmhurst, all freshmen in the Department of Business begin their studies the same way: by completing a core curriculum in fundamental topics of the field. By learning more about all the different areas of business, you'll be able to make a more informed decision when it comes time to declare a major. Elmhurst's affordable small college accounting program is particularly popular, as is its finance degree. One unique highlight of both programs is their mentorship initiative, which pairs undergrads with a regional business executive who can answer questions and offer professional advice. Alternatively, the Math Department offers a degree in actuarial science that is ideal for students with an interdisciplinary interest in finance, economics, and statistics.
Net Price: $23,688/yr
20. North Central College
Ambitious students, take note: North Central provides one of the best options for getting the most out of your degree. Not only do finance majors have access to great career and internship opportunities, but they can also maximize their academic efficiency by earning a second major in economics. Because the two fields have so much overlap, you'll only need to take two additional courses to meet the requirements for both programs. In contrast, accounting majors fortify their studies by choosing from a select number of career-oriented concentrations: certified public, certified management, and corporate accounting. This convenient opportunity to earn relevant certifications helps North Central stand out on this top accounting degrees ranking.
Net Price: $23,565/yr
19. Berry College
Mount Berry, GA
If easy access to the natural world is important to you, check out Berry College. Located about halfway between Atlanta and Chattanooga and comprising more than 27,000 acres, Berry boasts the largest contiguous college campus in the world. All that space for fewer than 2,200 undergrads to share! As for the school's affordable undergraduate finance degree – and its equally affordable accounting major – both offer strong opportunities to learn the underlying principles of money management. What's more, extracurricular clubs are ready and waiting to help you put those principles into practice. For example, you might join the Berry Investment Group, where you'll manage a portfolio alongside fellow students and hear from key speakers about investing-related topics.
Net Price: $23,404/yr
18. Anderson University
Plenty of schools offer straightforward accounting or finance majors, but Anderson gives students more granular options with a few niche concentrations. At this top college for an accounting degree, finance majors can concentrate in either entrepreneurship or investments, while the accounting curriculum provides specializations in forensic work and CPA preparation. Concentrations typically require just three or four courses, and you'll have plenty of classes from which to choose. Also note that because Anderson is affiliated with the Church of God, all undergraduates must take at least one class related to Christianity or the study of the Bible.
Net Price: $21,945/yr
17. Olivet College
At the Michigan-based Olivet College, you'll find one of the best small colleges for accounting and finance majors who thrive when they have varied learning opportunities. Case in point: the Olivet College Global Center for Entrepreneurs and Leaders. Just a few years old, GCEL is the brainchild of an executive-in-residence who wanted to give students access to business leaders and industry executives around the world. As part of this 10-day, three-credit program, finance and accounting majors will travel overseas to acquire an international perspective on business (the most recent trip took place in Antigua).
Net Price: $21,449/yr
16. Hillsdale College
The backbone of Hillsdale's educational approach is its core curriculum. All freshmen and sophomores read the same material and grapple with the same problems and theories at the same time, and these fundamental ideas inform your future studies. For example, Hillsdale describes its affordable undergraduate finance degree as being "rooted in our classical liberal arts curriculum and free-market approach." And accounting majors can expect to take additional coursework in math, science, or a foreign language in order to prepare themselves for a career in the global marketplace. Both degrees are also available as minors, so you can mix and match to create a course of study that fits your career goals.
Net Price: $21,201/yr
15. Lake Erie College
The top small college accounting program at Lake Erie leverages a full suite of hands-on experience – including internships, case studies, and lots of collaborative work –to prepare students for the real world. A particularly unique feature exists in the forensic accounting concentration, which imparts training in auditing and investigation techniques as well as general accounting principles. Even better, you'll only need to take an additional three or four classes to earn this specialized credential and open up a world of interesting career opportunities in law, government, and criminology. Number-crunching aside, LEC should appeal to anyone looking for a truly small college: student enrollment counts fewer than 800 undergrads and about 250 post-grads.
Net Price: $20,795/yr
14. Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs, NC
Thanks to its affiliation with the Baptist church, Gardner-Webb is one of the best colleges for an accounting degree that incorporates elements of the Christian faith. Whether you major in finance or accounting, you can expect many of your classes to share two common themes: the importance of Christian ethics in business and how to maintain integrity in your work. Even your extracurricular activities will reflect this concern for moral behavior. GWU has even enlisted the help of ENACTUS, a global nonprofit that encourages student groups to pursue projects that focus on improving the lives of others and giving back to the community.
Net Price: $20,417/yr
13. Ottawa University
Future finance majors should note two particularly important benefits of attending Ottawa University. First, it has the smallest undergraduate class size on this accounting degrees ranking. Second, its finance and accounting degrees are extremely flexible: you can major in either field and pair it with a minor in any other subject, related or not. Accounting majors can also add an optional concentration to focus their studies in an area such as actuarial science, international business, management, or marketing. But flexibility isn't a replacement for rigorous study; students in both programs must complete a capstone seminar where they'll explore advanced topics and how they relate to real-world issues.
Net Price: $20,094/yr
12. Marian University
If you're concerned with student success metrics, you'll probably appreciate Marian University's commitment to sharing data on its top undergraduate finance degrees. The school's website includes detailed information on "program effectiveness," which includes average scores on the Peregrine CPC Comp Exam and CAPSIM Business Simulation (Marian students perform above average on both). Of course, these results aren't all that surprising when you consider how comprehensive the curriculum is. Both accounting and finance majors must complete 34 credits in core business classes in addition to the 18-24 that comprise their professional specialization.
Net Price: $19,992/yr
11. Northwest Nazarene University
Northwest Nazarene is not just another affordable college for an accounting degree. To be sure, its accounting program is standard by many measures, and it serves as a reliable conduit to careers in corporate and governmental accounting. It also provides substantial preparation for aspiring CPAs. But NNU stands out from the crowd not for its accounting program, but for its particularly unique B.S. in Financial Economics. This degree attracts students who are interested in both the practical (industry) and theoretical (research/academic) aspects of the field. Although majors must take all the same core business classes as their classmates in accounting, they'll also explore intriguing topics like "Personal Finance and Stewardship" and "Money and Financial Institutions."
Net Price: $19,789/yr
10. Avila University
A faith-based college with a storied past, Avila now offers a coed education grounded in traditional values. This top small college for accounting and finance majors provides undergrads with a few distinct ways to earn their degree. First and foremost, you'll need to choose whether to earn a B.S. or B.S.B.A. degree. The latter offers concentrations in both Accounting and Finance (among other options) and includes a strong dose of general business classes. Note that the accounting concentration also features targeted coursework in corporate accounting. In contrast, the B.S. in Accounting focuses exclusively on public sector work and is ideal for those who want to become CPA, CMA, or CIA certified.
Net Price: $19,539/yr
9. Culver-Stockton College
If gaining relevant real-world experience prior to graduation is important to you, you'll appreciate that Culver-Stockton requires all students to participate in an internship. And the school is serious about making sure you acquire the work experience you need – so much so that it has modified its entire course schedule accordingly! In fact, CSC's program is the only one on this accounting degrees ranking to employ such a unique system, which consists of two 15-week semesters per year. Each semester further divides into one 12-week and one three-week term, granting students more freedom to find and participate in internships. And the school's dedication to this system clearly pays off: C-SC boasts a 96% job or grad school placement rate.
Net Price: $19,188/yr
8. Concordia University – St. Paul
Saint Paul, MN
With three different affordable small college accounting programs – not to mention an accounting minor – Concordia has options to satisfy nearly every student. You can earn either a B.S. or a B.S.B.A. in Accounting; the latter requires more credit hours but leaves you better prepared to sit for the CPA exam. There's also an accelerated B.A. in Accounting that is designed specifically for nontraditional students who have a significant number of transfer credits under their belt already (both on-campus and online classes are available). If you're more interested in finance, Concordia has both a major and a minor in the field.
Net Price: $19,082/yr
7. Ave Maria University
Ave Maria, FL
With its strong Catholic tradition, Ave Maria is one of the best small colleges for accounting and finance majors who want to integrate their studies with their Catholic faith. Although there is an assumption that anyone working in business – and that includes accounting and finance view – is motivated primarily by profit, Ave Maria encourages students to roll back this stereotype and see the value in using their economic acumen to improve their communities. The college is also a strong proponent of a well-rounded education, therefore the undergraduate curriculum includes required courses in both the humanities and social sciences. Finally, opportunities to work both alone and collaboratively ensure that you enter the working world with strong communication and teamwork skills.
Net Price: $18,800/yr
6. Oklahoma Christian University
At Oklahoma Christian, you won't have to choose between accounting and finance: the school offers a Bachelor of Business Administration that covers both topics at once. In addition to providing a more thorough survey of the industry, this rigorous curriculum (which includes a minimum 126 credits) also helps undergraduates accrue the necessary coursework they need to sit for the CPA exam in Oklahoma. Even students who don't plan to earn an accounting certification will benefit from classes like the "Strategic Management" capstone, which imparts relevant managerial and analytical skills. What's more, this top college for an accounting degree supports networking and development opportunities through on-campus clubs for business majors of all backgrounds.
Net Price: $18,758/yr
5. University of St. Francis
USF stands out on this top accounting degrees ranking thanks in part to its diverse concentrations and degree programs. Finance majors in particular are spoiled for choice: they can choose from concentrations like Banking and Credit Analysis and Entrepreneurial and Small Business Finance, which help add specificity to an otherwise broad curriculum. Students also participate in detailed group projects that have real-world applications (and look great on a resume). For accounting majors, one of the most appealing options is an accelerated MBA program that enables participants to earn both their bachelor's and master's degrees in just five years.
Net Price: $17,616/yr
4. Daemen College
The nonsectarian Daemen College is committed to instilling a strong sense of ethics in its graduates. Like other top small college accounting programs at Christian universities, Daemen encourages its business majors to make decisions that are good for society, not just the bottom line. This attitude extends to the extracurricular sphere, where you can participate in community enrichment initiatives such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Other opportunities to expand your horizons come in the form of study abroad trips; past groups have travelled everywhere from Brazil to Italy in search of a more global perspective on business.
Net Price: $17,551/yr
3. St. Mary's University
San Antonio, TX
The Finance and Risk Management program at St. Mary's offers a unique combination of foundational finance coursework and targeted risk management training. The program centers on experiential learning to give you relevant experience, including the chance to help manage a $1.8 million portfolio in a real trading room. As you pursue this top undergraduate finance degree, you'll also have ample opportunities to meet and network with business leaders from both local and global organizations. And because St. Mary's maintains strong ties with the business community, you can take your pick of internships at top companies — many of which lead to permanent job offers.
Net Price: $17,164/yr
2. Christian Brothers University
Christian Brothers shines as one of the best small colleges for accounting and finance majors who want to create a degree program tailored to their exact interests. Faculty are on board to help with this task. For business majors who concentrate in finance, this means working closely with your academic advisor to develop a research project or internship that suits your career goals. Students in the accounting program also have the opportunity to chart their own course by taking a "special topics" class in which they pursue "intensive study" of a subject that is particularly unique or timely in its significance.
Net Price: $15,556/yr
1. Brigham Young University – Hawaii
The affordable small college accounting program at BYU – Hawaii represents a strong option for students who work best with engaged teachers. Professors at BYU frequently act as mentors outside the classroom, and they'll prepare you for work both at established organizations and in self-employed practice. You can also opt to join the Hawaii chapter of the BYU Management Society, a global organization of business leaders who share the LDS faith. It's a great opportunity to network and make connections with like-minded professionals who could help you find employment after you graduate.
Net Price: $10,695/yr
Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable small college accounting programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center.
For information about our methodology, click here.
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